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Merrick Community Services finds a new home
Gustavus Adolphus church is leasing space to social services agency
After 10 years of searching, Merrick Community Services has found a new permanent home on the northern edge of the East Side.
Merrick Community Services and Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church have signed a 20-year lease for Merrick to use 15,000 square feet of office, classroom and gymnasium space at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, located at 1669 Arcade St., just south of Larpenteur Avenue.
Merrick will spend about $1 to $1.25 million to remodel the space to meet the needs of its social service agency. Clients of Merrick will use the church’s northwestern entrance, off of Larpenteur Avenue. There are also two bus stops on the same block as the church for those who use bus service.
The new facility will provide space for programs, administrative offices and a new and expanded food shelf and Meals on Wheels. The enlarged food shelf and Meals on Wheels program will complement the current food shelf facility at Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood.
The new Merrick facility will include intake rooms, a computer lab, classrooms, meeting rooms and a multipurpose gymnasium.
In 2016 the nonprofit agency served over 15,000 individuals through its various social services programs.
After 53 years in its one-story brick building at Minnehaha Avenue and Edgerton Street, Merrick had to move from that location in 2013 due to “deteriorating conditions.”
For the past three years Merrick’s central offices have been in the Old Swedish Bank building at 965 Payne Ave. In order to continue its safety net programs while searching for a new home, Merrick has been operating with a “services without walls” approach, meeting clients at various locations across the East Side.
“Our new facility will allow us to provide better service to our clients,” according to Dan Rodriguez, Merrick’s executive director. “Returning our central programs to one building will give clients access to multiple programs with a single visit. The staff and board are excited about the additional opportunities and efficiencies the facility will allow us to offer our clients.”
This will be the fourth permanent location for Merrick during its 109 years of operating on the East Side. Merrick and Gustavus Adolphus church began making plans to share space in 2016 after the congregation voted to lease 15,000 square feet to the agency.
The remodeling work is planned to begin the first week of March and continue through the summer.
Merrick Community Services was established in 1908 to help immigrants and those dealing with poverty on the East Side.
The Rev. John Hierlinger, senior pastor at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, explained that the congregation was founded in 1889 by Swedish immigrants who were “making a new home in St. Paul.”
“Our ancestors faced many of the same challenges that face the vulnerable in our community today: economic insecurity, language barriers, and other roadblocks to equity,” Hierlinger said.
“We extend a hearty welcome to Merrick Community Services as they prepare to join us on the Gustavus Adolphus campus.
“This partnership is yet another step on the road that the Gustavus Adolphus community has trod for almost 130 years on the East Side of St. Paul, a commitment to the service of out neighbors and our community,” he said.